NEW YORK EMPIRE PREVAIL IN THRILLING MATCH AGAINST ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS, 20-19
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (July 24, 2019) – Proving that every point really does count in World TeamTennis, the New York Empire presented by Citi won a thrilling match Wednesday night from Breakers Stadium at Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Trailing the Orange County Breakers 16-15 entering the final set, the Empire’s Neal Skupski and Ulises Blanch prevailed 5-3 to win in exhilarating fashion, 20-19.
The Empire improve to 5-4 while the Breakers drop to 3-4.
Kicking off the night in mixed doubles, the Empire’s pairing of Skupski and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez got the team off to a dream start. The turning point in the set came when Skupski hit a baseline winner after a long rally, putting the Empire up three games to one. New York would go on to take the set 5-3 over the Breakers’ Luke Bambridge and Andreja Klepac.
The women’s doubles team of Martinez Sanchez and Kirsten Flipkens rode the momentum into the second set, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead. However, Orange County’s Klepac and Nicole Gibbs clawed all the way back to even the score at 3-3. Each team would go on to hold serve during the next two games, leading to a tiebreak. Flipkens and Martinez Sanchez rose to the occasion to win the tiebreak and extend the Empire’s lead to 10-7.
The Empire’s lead quickly slipped away in the third set, as the Breakers’ franchise player Steve Johnson showed his worth by dispatching of the Empire’s Ulises Blanch, 5-0. Johnson’s perfect set in which he fired four aces past Blanch put the Breakers ahead 12-10.
Needing a bounce-back set, Kirsten Flipkens provided just what the Empire were looking for in the penultimate set of women’s singles. With the set score deadlocked at 4-4, Flipkens battled hard to win the tiebreak and cut the overall match deficit to 16-15.
With everything to play for in the final set of men’s doubles, the Empire’s Skupski and Blanch kept their composure and outplayed the Breakers’ Johnson and Bambridge, winning the set 5-3 and stealing the match 20-19, stunning the hometown Orange County fans.
|New York Empire at Orange County Breakers – Box Score|
|New York Empire||5||5||0||5||5||20|
|Orange County Breakers||3||4||5||4||3||19|
Mixed Doubles: Martinez Sanchez/Skupski (NYE) def. Bambridge/Klepac (OCB), 5-3
Women’s Doubles: Martinez Sanchez/Flipkens (NYE) def. Gibbs/Klepac (OCB), 5-4
Men’s Singles: Johnson (OCB) def. Blanch (NYE), 5-0
Women’s Singles: Flipkens (NYE) def. Gibbs (OCB), 5-4
Men’s Doubles: Skupski/Blanch (NYE) def. Johnson/Bambridge (OCB), 5-3
The Empire close out their west coast swing tomorrow night, July 25, against the San Diego Aviators, then travel to Orlando to challenge the Storm on Saturday, July 27. The Empire return home to Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning next Monday night, July 29, against the Springfield (Mo.) Lasers.